An Immersion Course in the Language of Images

A lot can happen inside a series of squares. An Oscar-winning actor might meet a basketball star, or your favorite song might intersect with the punny punchline of a joke. Gimmicky grid construction might reveal hidden gems! Gotham might be saved from the Riddler’s clutches! Calvin and Hobbes might sculpt an army of gruesome snowmen! Krazy Kat might introduce newspaper readers to gender fluidity! You might discover new facets of your own artistic voice!

There’s a good chance you already fill in creative arrangements of squares on a regular basis, enriching your brain’s language centers by solving crosswords. Why not take this ritual a step further? Lynda Barry’s Making Comics begins with the reminder, “There was a time when drawing and writing were not separated for you,” and she shows us that it is possible to return to such a time. By partaking in the book’s exercises, you can learn to reunite images and language in your mind, to “practice the language of the image world.”

If you feel like your language centers need a good jolt, comic-making might be a perfect new hobby, and Making Comics is the perfect introductory text for puzzle fans. As Barry explains, the book’s exercises “take advantage of a basic human inclination to find patterns and meaning in random information,” and who loves patterns more than puzzlers? For instance, one simple exercise she says that anyone can do is drawing a scribble and then figuring out how to turn it into a monster. It’s that simple.

Your blogger with the book in question.

Many of the pattern-finding exercises in Making Comics’ treasure trove are collaborative, depending on a classroom setting or simply a creative partnership among friends. Others, however, can be done in solitude, including the exercises I’m going to take you through below. To prepare: Barry recommends, when just starting out, working with black Flair pens, a composition notebook (preferably not made from recycled materials), index cards (blank on one side), and basic 8.5×11 printer paper. She describes the composition notebook as “a place rather than a thing,” and says that you should try to keep it by your side like a faithful dog. “Making comics involves the same daily practice that learning any language does,” so keeping your materials handy is crucial.

Do you have your materials? Great! Let’s dive into the Animal Diary and consequent Animal Ad Lib, instructions pictured below!

More of Barry’s comics wisdom can be found on her Tumblr and Instagram, or of course, if you’re hooked, you can always pick up a copy of the book. It’s a full immersion course in a new language, in a new way of seeing.


For more fun, daily forays into the world of language, there’s Daily POP!

You can find delightful deals on puzzles on the Home Screen for Daily POP Crosswords and Daily POP Word Search. Check them out!

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It’s Follow-Up Friday: Puzzle Book edition!

Welcome to Follow-Up Friday!

By this time, you know the drill. Follow-Up Friday is a chance for us to revisit the subjects of previous posts and bring the PuzzleNation audience up to speed on all things puzzly.

And today, I’m posting the results of our #PennyDellPuzzleBooks hashtag game!

You may be familiar with the board game Schmovie, hashtag games on Twitter, or @midnight’s Hashtag Wars segment on Comedy Central.

For the last few months, we’re been collaborating on puzzle-themed hashtag games with our pals at Penny/Dell Puzzles, and this month’s hook was Penny/Dell Broadway Puzzles!

Examples might be The Lord of the Diamond Rings or The Da Vinci Codeword or Alphabet Soup for the Soul.

So, without further ado, check out what the puzzlers at PuzzleNation and Penny/Dell Puzzles came up with!


Charlotte’s Spider’s Web

Right Angles and Demons

The Grapes of Word Math

The Scarlet Letterboxes / The Scarlet Letter Logic

The Fault in Our Starspell / The Fault in Our Star Words

Harry Potter and the Halftime Prince

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stepping Stones

Brave New Word Seeks / Brave New Word Games

The Lion, the Witch, and the Word Seek

The Wizard Words of Oz

The “Mystery Person” of Edward Drood

To Kill a Missing Word (List)

The Fountainheads & Tails Word Seek

Around the Block in Eighty Days / Around the Bend in 80 Days

A Tale of Two-Step Cities

The Three of a Kind Musketeers

Oh, the Places, Please You’ll Go!

Peyton’s Places, Please

Anagrams Karenina

Anagram of Green Gables

North & South of Eden

The Swiss Family Robinson Ties

Bowl Game of Thrones

Ender’s Bowl Game

Fahrenheit Two for One / Fahrenheit 451 and Only

Sudoku Road

Cryptograms Wake / Fill-Ins Wake / Figgerits Wake

Kakuro Pioneers!

Little Puzzler on the Prairie

First and Last of the Mohicans

The Picture Sleuth of Dorian Gray / The Picture This of Dorian Gray

Watership Spelldown

Buried Treasure Island

The Countdown of Monte Cristo

Take It from There to Eternity

The Sign of Four Corners / The Big Four Corners

The Doomsday Bookworms

Great Crostictations

A Wrinkle in Time Machine

The Perks of Being a WallFlower Power

Catch-22 for One

The Hotel on the Poet’s Corner of Bitter and Sweet

50 Shades of Grey Shadows

The Joy Luck Crosswords Club

Jurassic Park What’s Left

My What’s Left Foot

Only The Shadow Knows

From Alphabet Soup to Nuts

Match Up Made in Heaven

Beat the Clock-work Orange

A Hive for a Honeycomb

Star Words

The Lost Symbol-lic Logic

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ringmaster

The Sylla-rillion

The Hunger Word Games

198-Four Square

The Sum Totals Also Rises

And one overachiever…

The “Lion” (‘Em Up), the “Which” (Way Words), and the “Word”robe by C(ircle) S(ums) Lewis


We also received a terrific one from @_Screenhog, Cross Sums of All Fears!

Have you come up with any Penny/Dell Puzzle Books of your own? Let us know! We’d love to see them!

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